I Didn’t Want It, Until Someone Else Mentioned It.

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One of my favorite pictures, ever, and taken on my cell phone.

I think most of us can relate:

Someone mentions something, or points out a potential problem that you were completely oblivious to prior to them saying anything and now the issue consumes your life.

For me, right now, it’s getting a new cell phone.

I am was, pretty happy with my phone (a Samsung S3) until about two weeks ago when my sister-in-law mentions that ”I’m probably due for an upgrade soon” as she currently was (we got our phones at almost the same time). My first reaction was that I wasn’t interested at all because I wasn’t having any problems…but I kept thinking about it…started researching…and now I want one.

It hadn’t even entered my head yet- getting a new phone. Sure I’ve had a few problems with my phone, but nothing like I’ve experienced with past phones where they’d get to the point I would even break contacts early to ensure I got a new phone that actually functioned half decently. Two years in and, for the most part, I’m pretty content with this little ”phone”. I love that it takes external memory so I can fill as many gigs as a want (mostly pics and videos of Maria), I love the quality of the pictures (I’ve had some printed from memory card and blown up), like the OS/app options and techy stuff and, overall, have few complaints (though the few I have had are biggies like the phone randomly turning itself off).

Funny thing though, now that it’s been pointed out to me that I am in fact due for an upgrade, it’s all I want right now. Knowing I am eligible for a new, better phone is intoxicating my thought process. To be perfectly honest, I’m suddenly less content with the device I currently have, all I see are its flaws and I totally recognize this.

It’s funny, I am so far from a techy/must have the newest whatever that it actually surprises me that I even care, but there’s something about capitalizing on this opportunity that makes my thoughts deluded.

Thankfully it’s ”just” a cell phone. There is a very high probability I will capitalize on said opportunity and go get the new phone. It doesn’t cost me anything other than resigning a contract and let’s be honest, I won’t not have a cell phone so signing the two year contract is really a non issue right?

What bothers me isn’t the phone, it’s the desire I have for this device.

My thoughts are sober enough to recognize fully that I am lusting after a piece of unnecessary equipment and I can’t help but think how drastic my change in feelings were. I went from not even thinking about it to wanting it because someone else said something to me.

People all over the world end up in terrible situations because they act on this feeling every day except it isn’t a free phone upgrade, it’s a $50,000 car they can’t afford, or whatever. Advertising is incredibly powerful, a true necessary evil in life.

Have you ever been in a similar situation of not wanting something until it was mentioned to you? What did you do?

We’re Paying off $100,000 Worth of Debt With the Help of My Freelance Writing Earnings (and how you can too!)

This post is a part of the Get Paid to Write for Blogs Course Launch! Get Paid to Write for Blogs is a brand new course created by Cat Alford of Budget Blonde. Cat makes a full-time income from writing for blogs, and this course will teach you how to do the same!

wpid-20140713_232643.jpgI’ve loved blogs since before I knew what a ”blog” was. It was actually my husband, Mike, who introduced them to me. He decided to start a hockey related blog in the early 2000’s and I have many vivid memories of him attempting to explain to me what he was doing on the internet. My love affair with blogs didn’t start until 2008, the year we were engaged.

It wasn’t the wedding that had me excitedly searching, it was the prospect of buying a home. Blogs consumed my life in planning our future home. I even started my own blog when we did, in fact, buy our first home in 2010. Though I loved reading blogs, I discovered that I didn’t get much satisfaction out of blogging myself until I started this one in 2012.

I was home all day on maternity leave, Mike and I were finally getting real about our financial situation (a baby has a way of forcing that sort of thing on you), and I was invigorated with these changes. I wanted to talk about the comparison of diaper pricing, coupon cutting, debt slaying and future plans with anyone who would listen. I LOVED talking about money. I also loved learning about personal finance. Between a combination of boredom (newborns sleep, a lot) and Mike’s honest frustration of hearing me talk about grocery sales every day, I decided to put my passion back into a blog as a way to release my energy, this, before I knew that personal finance blogging was a niche.

I didn’t read a single personal finance blog (that’s a lie, I knew about Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s site), until after I started this one. I was already on Twitter and from their ”recommended” following I came across what sounded like another site along the same lines as mine (it was See Debt Run) and thought ”Holy crap, more people who like to talk about money and debt as much as I do?!…” Little did I know, I had accidentally fallen into a massive blogging niche which has quite literally changed my life.

I knew people made money online (hello, I was obsessed with YHL) but I didn’t have a clue how. I really wanted to find another income stream to help my family while I was on maternity leave and more specifically, to help us pay our debt off. The first thing I noticed about the PF niche was how altruistic it was. Everyone was (is) so involved in helping everyone, it’s like a little family. I would ask questions, a lot of them, to anyone who would answer about how to make money. Everyone was very helpful and they all suggested starting with freelance writing.

There have been many people who have helped me succeed in earning money online, to which I am so, beyond, grateful for. I can honestly say, when it comes for freelance writing, Cat from Budget Blonde was is one of the key people in helping me pursue my gigs. I got my first gig December of 2012 and haven’t looked back.

I have been following Cat since the beginning, I mean way before she was the infamous Cat from Budget Blonde who gets published on little sites like Huffington Post. I was reading her blog back in her mostly DIY, newlywed days, but to be honest, had forgotten about her until I saw her comment on one of the other sites I was reading in 2012 and made the connection between ”old DIY Cat” and the now ”infamous PF freelancing Cat” we all know her as today. She’s amazing.

One of the first financial moves we made when we decided to get real about getting our finances in order was to consolidate a bunch of our ”random debt” (I may have put some tuition on credit cards…), the total of this debt was just shy of $25,000. In December of 2012 we made our first payment towards that loan, this loan in currently sitting at $5,000 and will be paid off in October, 18 months before it’s ”payoff date” mostly thanks to my freelance earnings. I started this blog with about $110,000 worth of non-mortgage debt, thanks to hard work and being able to make money online, our debt is sitting around $65,000 today with a goal to be eliminated in about 28 more months.

If you’re trying to reach a financial goal, or if you’re simply looking for an alternative income stream, I can’t recommend freelance writing enough. I can easily do it after my daughter is in bed or on weekends when I have a little more free time. As long as I have access to the internet it is something I can do anywhere in the world and you can too!

Get Paid to Write For Blogs is a comprehensive online course that teaches you everything you need to know about getting hired to write for blogs. With 29 videos within 8 modules, this course covers every single step to start a successful and lucrative writing career online. Use MY LINK to get 15% off your course!

How Patience Saves Me Money on Pet Care

The following is a guest post from fellow blogger Kendal Perez.
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Photo taken by Kendal Perez

I’m the proud parent of two Labrador-Australian Shepherd mixes who, thankfully, are each in good health at age eight. My husband and I maintain their good health by feeding them quality food and keeping them up-to-date on vaccines and disease prevention.

I’m one of those annoying people who compares her dogs to children. Our DINK status means our smartphones aren’t filled with images of toothless, slobbering babies, but wide-greening, slobbering dogs. I’m in love with these animals and would do anything to help them maintain their health. That being said, I’m a firm believer in comparing costs and avoiding excessive fees whenever possible. Sometimes, that comes at the price of my time.

Recently, we took our dogs in for their annual vaccinations. While we had been taking them to Banfield, I opted this year to take them to Vetco to avoid office visit fees. With our two dogs, those fees typically added up to $60, so waiting in line to avoid that expense seemed worth it. And wait in line I did — we arrived a few minutes after 10:00am when the clinic opened (rookie mistake) and I stood behind two very-behaved huskies for over an hour. Since my dogs aren’t as well behaved in stressful situations with other animals, my husband kept them company under a shade tree in the back of our truck.

When it was finally our turn, I let the vet tech know that we didn’t need Bordatella vaccines for our dogs, to which she responded with a cheaper package than the one I’d been planning to purchase. Another $20 saved there.

The procedure itself took about five minutes and about a pound of dog hair nervously shed by the boys. I was offered brand-name heartworm treatment for $53 for six tablets or $100 for 12 tablets, but again I decided to spend more time comparing prices and finding the best deal.

After receiving results from the lab tests, I looked at prices from several different pet med providers but it was ultimately my husband who found the best offer. The generic heartworm meds we’d been using for our dogs cost $29 for six tablets or $55 for 12 tablets. I grabbed a coupon code from CouponSherpa.com to save an additional $5 and ultimately paid less than $50 for 12 pills.

Taking the time to research your options and make informed decisions is hardly groundbreaking, but in our fast-paced, want-it-now society, the strategy is often overlooked. It can be (and should be) applied to a number of situations, whether it’s waiting until sale time to pick up a new appliance, holding off on a car purchase until you can pay for it with cash, or simply trading your Sunday morning plans to save a few bucks on pet care.

Has patience ever saved you money?


Kendal Perez is a spokesperson for Coupon Sherpa, the premier source of online, in-store and mobile coupons. She also blogs about her money-saving successes and failures over at Hassle-Free Savings and enjoys yoga, decluttering, IPA and obsessing over her dogs.

Why I’m Now Thinking About Life Insurance

The following is a guest post from Jeanna at Quotacy.

Image from: freedigitalphotos.net

Image from: freedigitalphotos.net

I never really thought about life insurance until my father passed away and the big question came up, “Does anyone know if dad had life insurance?”

No.  My dad did not have life insurance.  He was 59, self-employed and been hiding his sickness from his family.  We knew he wasn’t in perfect health, but we didn’t know just how bad it was.

After his death, besides dealing with grief and trying to piece together his assets, debt, and a mess of paperwork, we also had to figure out how we were going to pay for everything.  Funeral costs, burial expenses and medical bills added up quickly.  There was plenty of outstanding debt that needed to be paid off as well.  On top of it, my siblings and I were all taking time off of work to meet with lawyers and take care of everything.

If my dad would’ve had life insurance, it would have made this terrible time in our lives a bit easier.  Nothing can take away the grief, but the financial stress could have been eased.

This experience made me realize the importance of life insurance and has me thinking about why my husband and I should purchase a life insurance policy.

5 Reasons to Purchase Life Insurance:

  1. Burial and Final Expenses
    Funeral and burial are costly and can quickly reach $10,000.
  2. Income Replacement
    When one spouse dies, the family can take a serious financial hit. Replacing that income can help the family maintain the lifestyle they are used to.
  3. Mortgage Protection
    The last thing a family wants to think about is losing their home after the death of their loved one. Life insurance can help to take care of that financial burden.
  4. Paying Off Debt
    A life insurance policy can help you pay bills. Most families have more than just a mortgage to think about.  Credit cards, medical bills, student loans, car payments, etc… these can quickly add up after the death of an income earner.
  5. Pass Wealth to Family
    As a part of your estate, you can leave money to your loved ones with a life insurance policy.

Term life insurance is simple protection at an affordable price.  Take 30 seconds and find out how little it would cost you to buy peace of mind.  Running term life insurance quotes is free and instant with Quotacy and they do not require any personal contact information upfront.  Start securing your family’s financial future by applying for life insurance today.

Do you have life insurance?

Jeanna is the Social Media Coordinator for Quotacy, an online life insurance agency for the modern consumer. When not at work, she enjoys writing for her own personal beauty, fashion and fitness lifestyle blog, volunteering for a local dog rescue, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

I’ll Be Back.

It’s been crazy around here and I didn’t get to finish the post I had scheduled for today so it will have to wait for another day!

I won’t be gone for long, just a few days. Mike and I took an extended weekend leading to the holiday Wednesday here in Canada (Canada Day) which we will be spending with family and friends. I will actually be unplugged for a few days and I can’t wait. We’re heading to the cottage Saturday for a few days sans Wi-Fi and honestly we both need it. As much as I love the internet I also love getting away from being so easily contacted a few days a year.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend, this is where I’ll be:189808_10100187144403859_1381570635_n

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a post I’m super pumped about so make sure you stop by!

Is Disorganization Killing Your Budget?

Too young to prep her to be a keeper?

Too young to prep her to be a keeper?

I am a fairly organized person. I rarely lose track of things and don’t forget important tasks or events. Comparatively speaking though, between Mike and I, he would probably laugh at me for even putting ”me” and ”organized” in the same sentence. Mike is a professional organizer in the sense that he’s a project manager for major engineering projects so really has his act together in all walks of life. Between the two of us we’re pretty good.

As organized as we try to be, disorganization still has a way of creeping into our lives. Sometimes it’s predictable, other times it catches us off guard. Whatever the reason, every time it happens, it causes chaos to our budget.

Maria started playing soccer this summer. This new event in our schedule is the exact thing that has the potential to bust our budget. The way the times work out between Mike picking her up, getting her ready and then backtracking to pick me up to be at the field on time, we as a family don’t have time to eat before her practice. By 7:10pm (when soccer is over), I’m still in my scrubs, crazy hungry and rushing home to get Maria fed and ready for bed.

Because we haven’t yet figured out a system that works for us on Thursdays, disorganization had led to the fact that the past three weeks we’ve (Mike and I) ended up grabbing take out on the way home from the field. Money we never plan, until that moment, on spending.

I live by my Excel spreadsheet. I don’t think a day goes by that I’m not looking at it, adding something, changing an amount or just logging in to see where we stand. Given that I have, in the past, lived without some form of money monitoring, I can say without a doubt that disorganization when it comes to day-t0-day finances is suicide to your financial health. We don’t budget every penny, but we do we closely watch them and without the monitoring in place we’d be total failures.

I notice other instances in my day-to-day routine that have the potential to ruin our budget too. Simple things like ensuring I make our lunches the night before. If I didn’t I know there is no way it would happen in the morning and we’d all need to buy lunch. Making lunches is one of my least favorite tasks but one that I get the most satisfaction out of.

If I let my laundry pile up, I know it will have a negative effect on other areas of my life and the compounding of these events kills our budget. It’s totally predictable too: slack on laundry leads to piles everywhere, leads to us ripping rooms apart looking for clothes, messy rooms everywhere leads to frustrations, leads to negative attitudes, leads to throwing caution out of the window which leads to nefarious budget busting activities…

Obviously a solution to disorganization goes beyond just staying on top of laundry but it’s a big start for me and my family. In order to combat disorganization to the best of my ability, I do things like organize our family calendar, make to-do lists, budget, meal plan and try to predict as many events as possible. This is a simplistic solution to a very involved problem but look for ”leaks” in your daily life- like laundry- and start there. Overtime it can have a monumental effect.

How does disorganization effect your budget?

Perspective.

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I hope you enjoy your day as much as a three year old in a $10 inflatable pool!

”A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”

We all need it from time to time. These past two months have been tough for our family for a few reasons, tomorrow being a pinnacle moment for us. Though I love you all, and as open as I try to be, there are some details of my life that aren’t appropriate to share with the world. I will share my current thought processes with you all to see if you can gain any perspective about your own lives.

These past two months have put money in many different lights for me. I am so grateful for the ability to earn it and use it. I am so thankful for our emergency fund even though, given a few minor events in the past two months (just to add to everything else going on), we have nearly depleted it. I am also, given events in our lives, more determined than ever to reach our financial goals.

Life is scary short. Both good and bad events in my life have magnified this point more times than I’d like these last few weeks. As our home was full of people who love and support us last weekend to celebrate Maria’s third birthday, I had an overwhelming feeling of ”I don’t give a shit about money anymore, THIS is what is important in life”. I can totally see why people say ”screw it” and live life as far as their remaining dollars will take them. Thankfully I was able to refocused my thoughts into determination to reach our goals instead.

I love money. I love talking about both saving it and spending it. Talking about mistakes and major victories but I need a reminder sometimes that it isn’t, in fact, everything. While it is a necessary tool to succeed in life, don’t let it rule your life. Enjoy all the non monetary aspects in your life- waking up in the morning, the ability to safely go outside your home, being loved, loving someone, your children and family. Only then will you really appreciate what you have.

Have a great day and I hope it’s full of all kinds of non-monetary amazingness!

How We’re Going To Afford Purchasing a Second Car

I have made mention that we were looking to get second vehicle. We’ve done well with one vehicle for some time but with my commute to work, Maria’s involvement in activities increasing and Mike still occasionally traveling out of town for work (taking our only vehicle with him), the time has come. We were hoping to wait until the debt was paid off but neither one of us is interested in the scramble that we have going on now any longer than we have to. We would 100% be screwed if we didn’t have our family to rely on. While I love them, and know they don’t mind helping us out, we would like the independence from them and their vehicles.

Before we could figure out a timeline about when this purchase is going to happen, we needed to figure out a target price. The car we buy will be used and likely a private sale. We also need to consider additional costs involved such as registration and paying for something like a CarProof report or mechanic exam. The last thing I want is to buy a car that I later finds out has a lien on it or something!

After doing a few days of research, we decided a target price of $5,000 would get us the kind of vehicle we’re looking for. Moderate mileage, safety inspected done, reliable and less than about 8 years old. We want a car that’s easy on gas since we have a SUV crossover now that isn’t so great with city driving (but satisfies our requirement for a larger vehicle for Mike’s work equipment). We’ll save an additional $500- $1,000 with a max savings target of $6,000 which will be able to take care of stuff mentioned above such as registration.

In order to do this, changes will have to be made. We’re not going to start saving for this until November at the earliest. We want to finish paying off the loan we’re currently working on before we look at saving for a car. As long as stuff like hot water heaters stops breaking on us we should be on target to have this loan paid off in October and start saving for the car by November. I’m not interested in buying a vehicle in the winter (in case we don’t get winter tires with the purchase it’s a cost we could save up for), so we won’t buy until probably May 2016.

This gives us seven months to save $6,000, a monthly target of about $850. Given that we put a minimum of $1,000/month towards this current loan, alone, I know the money will be in our budget, it does however mean that the next loan in line to be paid off will be delayed. It will still be getting some additional payments (anywhere from $150-$400 extra per month), it won’t get the full payment until after we buy the car. It’s too far in the future to know if we will be able to ”make up” the money we’re putting into the car, which is lost in extra debt payments, but I sure hope even with a $5000-$6,000 setback we can still meet out target of November of 2017 to be (non-mortgage) debt free, I’m just not 100% sure how I’m going to make it happen!

One Thing You Can Do to Save You Thousands!

This is a post topic I have started on and off over the last year but completing it came at a great time this week….

wpid-20150610_231245-1.jpgSomething that seriously lacks among most of my peers is the ability to ”fix” anything of their own. They drop all the hemming off at the tailor, throw away mildly broken objects, hire house cleaners and call professional help when anything needs to be done. Most all of these things are foreign to me.

I do all my own basic hemming, a skill I learned from sewing lessons I was enrolled in back in elementary school. If you don’t know how to do very basic hemming it’s a skill that you can easily learn. Buy a cheap sewing machine and have someone show you! If you don’t have a friend or family member to help, check out a local craft store and see if they host any classes. I’ve used basic sewing skills to hem many, many, pants (joys of being short), sew curtains and fix basics like zippers. I once had a zipper repaired in an emergency (on the way to a wedding and dress ripped open emergency) and paid more for the zipper than I paid for the dress!

My skills are limited to basic sewing, repairs like vacuums, painting, some DIY and honestly, patience. My husband however is good with more technical stuff like hotwater tanks leaking all over the floor. I went into our laundry room the other night to get a cloth to wipe up a mess and realized how humid it was in the room…then realized my feet were wet…then realized the water tank was leaking all over the floor. Awesome. Mike was able to turn off the power and water intake off, we wiped up the water that was seeping into the surrounding walls and called it a night. I spent all night worrying about more potential damage and cost.

We had an emergency fund that was already hit once this month and was really hoping we didn’t have to dip into our upcoming trip savings. Thankfully with the skill-set between Mike, my father-in-law and Mike’s grandfather, what I was told was going to cost over $1,000 with a plumber, they did for $343, the cost of a new tank- on sale. If I didn’t have the skills of these men in my life, I would have totally depleted my savings since quite honestly I have no idea how to solder pipes, or wire electricity beyond a wall outlet.

Obviously I don’t recommend DIYing a hot water tank install off a YouTube video if you don’t confidently know how to actually do these things since it’s a safety issue, but these are skills Mike has picked up and learned over the years. I can’t even begin to imagine how many thousands of dollars we have saved doing the work ourselves, mostly because we made time growing up to learn these basics and value a dollar.

It seems simple, but basics like learning to cook, sew, repair things is a lost art. We live in such a fast paced time we don’t have time for anything anymore. No time to teach or learn these skills let alone implement them- it’s always faster and easier to have someone else take care of it all but at what cost? Taking time to learn basic, useful, life skills can save you thousands in your lifetime.

What skill set do you have that has saved you big bucks?

How Large Is the Medical Debt Problem in The United States?

If the credit status of 43 million Americans is an accurate reflection of the US medical debt problem, then the situation is huge. It’s a concern because not only do those US citizens have burdensome debts because of their healthcare expenses, but those unpaid sums are now affecting the creditworthiness of the individuals. Some troubling statistics show just how upsetting the situation is:

  • One out of five credit histories show a black mark because of overdue medical sums.
  • Healthcare bills make up the number one source of debt in the country and the leading cause of bankruptcy.
  • 35% of Americans have financial obligations that have gone to collections.
  • In 2012, $21 billion in medical debt was paid out by American consumers and those numbers are growing.
  • According to some watchdog groups, many of those debts are undeserved.

There are a couple of factors that contribute to situation: the hospital billing system is complicated and prone to errors and there are no standardized pricing guidelines for services.

Billing Errors and Overpayment Trouble

One study conducted by NerdWallet established that nearly half of all Medicare claims had billing errors. It is significant that those errors resulted in overpayment to Medicare – mistakes that proved costly to hospitals. The study only took Medicare information into account, but the situation is spread throughout the entire hospital billing system. Consumers could protect themselves from paying extra by carefully reviewing all of their medical bills and insurance reimbursements. However, the billing process is complicated and drawn out. Compounding the problem is the fact that most consumers aren’t aware of the magnitude of this problem and don’t feel comfortable working with the hospital billing departments.

The Lack of Standard Pricing

The second part of the problem is that the same procedure might cost one amount in one state, but 50 times that amount in another state. Although prices vary by state, there is also a great deal of variation between prices of healthcare facilities located in different cities within the same state. It isn’t possible for US consumers able to plan ahead for their medical procedures because this information isn’t often made available to them.

A Medical Quandary

According to a report issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), hospital billing practices are confusing at best and the system for reporting is a jumbled mess. Remarking on the situation, the director of the CFPB said, “Getting medical care should not make your credit report sick.” Faced with additional debts because of healthcare costs they can’t afford or skipping treatment altogether, consumers often choose being either physically sick or financially sick.